These past two weeks, the children at Free Rangers flexed their creative muscles in our outdoor kitchen. The children's role play area in Preschool has always been a popular choice with the children, as they create breakfasts, luncheons and high teas, so doing this outside seemed like a good choice. I was similarly conscious that I often lack the language and communication side of the EYFS as a main aim to my sessions (it's inherently there on most sessions as they learn the names of plants or tools, listening and speaking skills etc), so felt that this was something to focus on throughout. The aim of the session was for them to develop their use of descriptive language as well as their imaginations. We focussed on the language of cookery, using words like stir, mix, whisk, pour, bake, fry, and boil as well as words to describe what they had made such as hot, cold, sweet, savoury, wet, and dry. We started the sessions during our snack time outside in the newly designed Apple Tree Den, discussing what we were eating, how we could describe it, our favourite foods, meals and tastes. Pasta and sausages were popular choices. As was cake.
The children had access to a range of ingredients to tempt their culinary curiosities. They were also tasked with foraging for more ingredients around the Forest School area on site. This was for 2 reasons: Firstly - they are moving around and exploring the outdoors during what were another two cold weeks, which in turn will aid the length of time they can be outside, and focus their concentration. Secondly, it allows the children to learn more about the plants they can find, and importantly what plants to avoid. The common plant Arum Maculatum, or more commonly referred to at Free Rangers as “Lords and Ladies”, is particularly prevalent. Although this plant isn’t deadly (unless you decide to make a large salad out of it), it has a very acrid, bitter taste and can cause tingling and swelling in the mouth and throat as well as stomach upset, so is very rarely ingested. When the young leaves break through the soil, they also resemble Wild Garlic (Ransoms) both of which show at similar times.
Then the open cooking started. At the start of the week, most children made a beeline for a single ingredient adding the whole lot to their chosen pan, topping with extra foraged ingredients afterwards and stirring like they’d never stirred before! As the week progressed, we opted for more focus on adding small amounts of various ingredients. Water was also a popular choice, some children opting to make drinks over food. There was great co-operation on some of the sessions, with children teaming up (Head Chef and Sous Chef in some situations) to make their meals. A trivet was placed in the fire pit so that children could cook their meals over the fire, and we also had an oven (a bucket wedged under the Bell Tent) so that the children could “bake”. There were some great creations made, and the children’s descriptions were super. Meals varied from “Yukky Monster Pie” to “Black Forest School Chocolate Cake” depending on what their meals looked like and the ingredients they had used. They used excellent descriptive words for their meals both as they cooked, and at the end when we presented their meals at our Forest School Feast!
Next week we’re going off site for some digging and tree exploration.
Until next time! :)